2017 Scientist of the Year: Lofty Goals for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

R&D Magazine’s 2017 Scientist of the Year is Cori Bargmann, PhD, the president of science at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative—and she was honored at the R&D 100 Awards Gala on Nov. 17. Science Editorial Director Bea Riemschneider gave the following speech and a personal acceptance video was played for the audience of R&D professionals.

In September 2016, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan committed $3 billion over the next 10 years to accelerate basic disease research—and they appointed Dr. Bargmann to oversee it all. 

Trained as a neuroscientist with a PhD in biology from MIT, Dr. Bargmann is also the head of the Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior at Rockefeller University in New York City. Dr. Bargmann is known for her work on the genetic and neural circuit mechanisms of behavior.

Previously, Dr. Bargmann served as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, as well as the co-chair of then-President Barack Obama’s BRAIN Initiative. 

Now, Dr. Bargmann heads the lofty goals of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative or CZI—to support those individuals and teams who work in science and technology—and with the help of CZI—will make it possible to “cure, prevent and manage all diseases by the end of the century.”

An incredibly ambitious goal, indeed, but not an impossible one! With only 14 months under its belt, CZI is already making headway—supporting large projects like the Human Cell Atlas, a toolkit to create comprehensive maps of all the cells in the human body—in addition to its support of open-access research and data.

A core principle at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is the idea of basic science as the engine of discovery.

That idea will continue to fuel Dr. Bargmann and CZI as she guides the Initiative into its second year—and beyond. R&D Magazine will be there to report on their progress—please watch for coverage online as we celebrate and follow this exciting new venture of discovery.

And now, please join me to watch a personal message from Dr. Bargmann, who could not join us here in person this evening—and also a message from some CZI folks you just might recognize—Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan joined by their CZI colleague David Plouffe.